Cultivating Personal Discipleship

October 11-12 was a big weekend for Mission Alive! We launched the first Cohort of Mission Training, the new equipping process for church leaders we have been developing in the past year.

Thirty people in six teams came together to participate at the Williamsburg Christian Church building in Williamsburg, Virginia – three church planting teams and three renewal teams (from existing congregations).

Mission Training

Mission Training is designed to equip church planting and renewal leaders as missionaries in their particular contexts. They begin to envision how the churches they lead can make disciples, reach those who are searching for God, and embody God’s inbreaking kingdom in their communities.

Leaders experienced Cultivate: Personal Discipleship, the first Equipping Lab in the Mission Training process. Cultivate fleshes out our fundamental conviction that the most effective church leaders are devoted Christ-followers. The purpose of the Lab is to help leaders evaluate their own personal spiritual health, have an encounter with God, and identify spiritual rhythms they want to live out in the six months following the Lab. Throughout the weekend, leaders receive teaching input, engage in personal reflection and journaling, and interact with other leaders in Equipping Huddles.

Wes Gunn, team leader of the Redland Hills church planting in Montgomery, Alabama, enjoyed the personal formation and networking opportunities in Cultivate:

“I appreciated the focus on personal discipleship and the foundation that we must be shaped by Christ ourselves prior to being able to guide others.  A particular blessing to me was networking with other church planters and encouraging each other in our journeys.”

Jason Thornton, a team member from the Williamsburg Christian Church, was touched by the depth of community and spiritual intimacy in the Lab:

“The Mission Alive Lab reminded me of the importance of the ‘each otherness’ of walking with Christ. I found it refreshing to be in a Huddle and to share in a time of confession with other brothers in Christ. Having been in ministry, I have frequently felt like I was on an island in spiritual battle. From my brief time in the Mission Alive Lab, I feel like I had more true spiritual intimacy with brothers and sisters in Christ than I had experienced in most of my time in ministry.”

Cultivate is one of four Equipping Labs hosted every six months in the two-year Mission Training Process.

Mission Training diagram

Click here to download our Mission Training brochure.

We are excited and thankful to God for the opportunity to walk alongside kingdom leaders and equip them for the mission!

Charles Kiser

Director of Training

We are excited!

Mission Training WilliamsburgFirst, we are excited about Mission Training.  Tod, Charles, and I were in Williamsburg, VA, this past weekend facilitating the first lab of our new equipping cycle.   Thirty-six participants (from three new/beginning church plants and three established churches) explored how to “Cultivate Personal Discipleship.” These participants were both growing as disciples themselves and learning to help others do the same.

new church plantersSecond, we are excited about new church planters–committed, talented, people of experience!!  For example, Wes Gunn recently announced to the Landmark Church in Montgomery, AL, that he was resigning to follow God’s call to plant a new church in the area where he lives.  Praise God for the words of encouragement and affirmation that Wes and Amanda and their core team received from their church family.  Please pray for Wes and Amanda Gunn (pictured), Tim and Diane Castro, Rob and Rivers Sellers, and Rob and Joy Williams as they begin to reach out into their community.  Read more about the Redland Hills Church at http://www.redlandhills.org/blog.  And we are thankful that this church planting is fully funded from the beginning.  Praise God with us!

Third, we are excited about the leaders who are growing to heightened spiritual vitality and understanding through our Equipping Communities, which we have been calling Huddles. Continue reading

A ReVision Church’s Story

We in Mission Alive were invited to begin walking with Fred Liggin and the Williamsburg Christian church when he transitioned into his leadership role at WCC two years ago.  Fred calls Gailyn his special mentor and coach, his sounding board and partner in his personal journey to cast a new vision and lead this church toward spiritual renewal.

Fred said, “We came to a cross roads where I realized we needed a partner in the journey. I shared this with the elders and we invited Mission Alive into our journey.”  Theirs is an exceptional story, not just because attendance has doubled and children’s ministry tripled, but because they have begun to think of themselves as a kingdom community on mission with God.  In this story you will hear that growth is not primarily about numbers but a people’s heart on mission with God.

Celebrating God’s Work

Monday, September 17, was a thrilling evening at the ACU Summit—our annual Celebration Dinner describing God’s work in Mission Alive.  We were blessed with a full house, just over 120 participants who heard stories of church planting, church renewal, and conversion.

Sergio Rizo spoke about family ministry in neighborhood contexts while beginning Reunion Christian Community in downtown Nashville.  For example, sometimes Sergio, his wife Jackie and their four children plan “sneak attacks” to bless others.  On those nights, they express God’s nature by secretly helping people.  One evening during Easter, they hid Easter eggs in three different yards. Then they taped a sign to each front door that read, “You’ve been egged!  The Rizo kids have hidden 12 eggs in your yard.  Enjoy the hunt, but don’t be discouraged when you find the empty egg.  It is a simple reminder of Jesus’ empty tomb.”  They then rang the doorbell and dashed to the van.  Afterward, they were blessed with calls and texts from each family that had been egged.  These simple ministries bless both their family and the Reunion Church.

My favorite part was seeing Margaret Akachuk’s video testimony describing her journey to become part of the Gentle Road Church of Christ in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  I was particularly moved by Margaret’s words: “God saved me from a life of disaster, and I’m willing to give back to the people any way that I can. And I’m very proud to be a member of Gentle Road.”  Watch Margaret’s testimony in this video.

Randy Couchman, Preaching Minister for the Boerne Church of Christ, spoke of Mission Alive’s role in his church’s ongoing renewal.  He spoke of intentional disciple-making processes to spiritually form his church’s leaders and how personal connections with people in neighborhoods are developing.  His friend David—part of a Starbucks group of searchers—invited Randy to go fishing with him early one morning and after deep soul-searching announced that he was ready to give his allegiance to Christ.  The lake where they fished became a baptistery!  Homer Hillis of Highland Church in Abilene, reflected on Randy’s words, saying, “I could see that he is not just a mouth in a pulpit, but one who walks with people.”

Tod Vogt, Director of Equipping in Mission Alive, told stories of churches that have been planted over the last seven years.  It was apparent that a nation-wide movement of church planting and renewal is developing.

Finally, Gailyn and Becky Van Rheenen told the story of Leslie Fry.  Leslie is not only a supporter of Mission Alive but also a great encourager.  Becky told of her anticipation of letters from home when they lived in Africa.  In this same way Gailyn and Becky anticipate opening the letters from Leslie.  He invariably includes a word of encouragement indicating that he prays for and follows what God is doing through us. His spirit of encouragement also takes him to Denver to spend time with the church planters and Christians of the Aspen community whom he also supports.  We were honored to present Mission Alive’s annual Mustard Seed Award to Leslie Fry, our Encourager!

We give thanks for the stories of God’s work and for all who gathered to hear them.

Gailyn Van Rheenen

gailyn@missionalive.org